An Open Letter to Men from Female Runners

But back to you.

The day I saw you walking along the dirt trail, it was hot. Do you remember? You were dressed in black pants, a long-sleeve black shirt, and a hat. It seemed like an odd choice for such a hot day. You turned around and we made eye contact, making it more difficult for me to decide what to do. I didn't want to offend you by turning around but I was also afraid to run past you.

Sometimes even offering to help can seem threatening.

When you said good morning, I didn't respond because I was out of breath. I was running fast—as fast as my legs would carry me, actually. I wanted to get around you and away from you, just in case. I'm sorry I didn't say good morning. I hope you understand.

The day you came up behind me on your bike, you were just being friendly. I know that now. When you said “nice” as you passed me, a thousand thoughts went through my head before the next word followed. In that moment, I wished I was a huge football player with the strength to push you off your bike. I wanted to make you feel fear and pain. I was ready for your words to make me feel gross for wearing tight shorts that day. Then you said “pace” and instantly I felt remorse for wanting to hurt you.

Thank you for that compliment. I was running fast that day, wasn't I? I didn’t mean to be, but I began to worry that I’d gotten too far from home and I was low on energy. When I get low on energy, I worry—not because I'll have to walk, but because I'm concerned that, should things go south, I won't have what it takes to fight someone off.

Remember that day you were out running, blowing off steam? You saw me up ahead, your eyes never leaving me, so I averted my gaze—something I do often when I pass men. You said hello and I didn't respond. I should have said hi, but I was worried that if I did, it would seem inviting. I wasn't sure why you were staring at me.

You cursed me out because I was quiet. When people are silent, it's often for a reason. I didn't deserve those words. I wonder, do you speak to women you know like that? Or just women you don't know? Either way, you scared me that day. I wanted to tell you that you were frightening me, to leave me alone, but the car incident I mentioned above taught me to run from people like you.

Then there was the day I fell off my bike. Thank you for asking if I was okay. You looked friendly and I thought it was nice that someone cared enough to pause and check on me. Here's the thing, though: Even if I was hurt, I would have told you I was fine. I immediately texted a friend, not to tell her of the fall, but because I wanted you to see that I had a phone. I know it sounds crazy, and it is, but the world is a crazy place and sometimes even offering help can seem threatening.

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About the Author

Dorothy Beal

Dorothy Beal is an RRCA and USATF Level 1 Certified Running Coach. She became a marathoner in 2003 and hasn't looked back since. She is the creator of the I RUN THIS BODY™ and #IHaveARunnersBody MOVEments. When not training for marathons or chasing her three children around, you can find her sharing her active life in pictures on Instagram or talking about all things running on her blog at mile-posts.com.
Dorothy Beal is an RRCA and USATF Level 1 Certified Running Coach. She became a marathoner in 2003 and hasn't looked back since. She is the creator of the I RUN THIS BODY™ and #IHaveARunnersBody MOVEments. When not training for marathons or chasing her three children around, you can find her sharing her active life in pictures on Instagram or talking about all things running on her blog at mile-posts.com.

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